Saturday, June 05, 2004

Good News, Bad News

I was thinking today that this blog site is like the Passover matzah - crisp and made in haste.* Hah!

8 days to departure.

Good news: Jim D., who underwent emergency surgery last week, has dramatically improved and has moved out of the Intensive Care unit. He will still have some major medical issues to deal with in the future, but to my knowledge, his life is no longer in danger because of this condition.

Bad news: Both Jim and his wife will have to cancel their trip. He is just physically in no condition to make it, and she has withdrawn herself as well. I'm sure it was a tough decision for her - I was wondering the other day what I would do if I were in her position, or his. What would you do? The trip of a lifetime...but, the health a loved one comes before anything. In any case, our hearts go out to them - no one was anticipating this trip more than they.

* This joke was stolen from Jeff R.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Radi-Yo

I was listening to this Israeli hip-hop station online today and Josie suggested I post it to my blog. So here it is.

The best part was hearing Josie say "Radi-Yo" with an Israeli accent. The "r" is so guttural...it will take some practice.

Josie says that Israelis love American music, which is not surprising. Most people around the world love our music and movies. Maybe the difference with Israelis is that they actually like American people, too?

Josie also told me that I'm going to love the place, and I won't want to come back - a topic which has been discussed previously. You never know - I've heard the Israeli girls are quite...attractive. Just kidding!

Get Involved

Late last night I made a couple of solid permanent additions to the site. The Daily Itinerary will allow you to follow along, and also has more than enough info packed in to keep you busy for a while. The Donation Station is also open for business!

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

O.C. Disorder on Hold

Given my anal-retentive tendencies in most aspects of my life (plenty of fam and friends who will vouch for this!), it's a little strange how I've come to approach traveling with such a whimsical disorganization.

I think this is a hold-over from my Peace Corps days. My friends and I used to pride ourselves on being able to go days and miles with just a t-shirt, jeans, flip-flops and a roll of toilet paper (TP optional.) We would snicker at the Euro-dorks strolling around decked out in their brand new $150 hiking boots, latest North Face gear, and man-sized backpacks filled to the brim. You would think they were climbing Everest or something.

Some members of our Israel group are bragging that they've been packed for weeks, and I've heard of people already meticulously labeling each bottle of hand-sanitizer, shampoo, paperclips, etc. Given my affinity for Obsessive Compulsive characters, I have to respect this approach. But I digress.

WMD - RIP?

I told myself I wouldn't go political with this blog - but this is a relevant piece...and besides, I just couldn't resist

"...we probably shouldn't be surprised by today's hand-wringing over the U.S. handling of Saddam, Iraq and the Bush doctrine of pre-emption."

Donations

If you want to contribute to my trip, I invite you to do so. After all, this whole thing is only possible through one big donation anyway (G-d bless you, Oma!)

You can donate by credit/debit card using PayPal, a safe and secure online payment system. Just use the "Make a Donation" button on my sidebar. As this is an electronic transaction you can donate at any time (even while I'm in Israel) and I will be able to access the funds.

If you want to send a check please email or call me and I will give you my mailing address.

How will I use your donation?
For food not covered in the tour package, water (it is a desert, you know), memorabilia, incidentals, etc. And maybe an Israeli beer or two.

To anyone who decides to contribute, I sincerely thank you for your generosity.

P.S. I am also looking into the possibility of accepting money for the planting of trees in Israel. I will post this info when I get a chance, but be thinking about that - I think it costs between $10 and $20.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Tour Itinerary

For your convenience:

Hotels:
June 14-16 Tel Aviv: Hotel Dan Panorama
June 16-19 Galilee: Nof Ginossaur Kibbutz
June 19-20 Dead Sea: Hotel Le Meridien
June 20-24 Jerusalem: Hyatt Regency

Itinerary:
Day 1 - Sunday June 13
Depart Miami for Eretz Israel. Overnight in flight.

Day 2 - Monday June 14 - Tel Aviv
Afternoon arrival in Tel Aviv.

Day 3 - Tuesday June 15 - Tel Aviv
Visit Neot Kedumin and have lunch, then on to ancient Joppa, where Peter had his vision. Time permitting stop at Dugit and the Ester House before dinner at the hotel.

Day 4 - Wednesday June 16 - Galilee
Today we visit Caesarea, the Roman capital of Israel. Then on to Haifa, where we will have a falafel lunch, and spend the afternoon overlooking the Mediterranean.

Day 5 - Thursday June 17 - Galilee
We wake up today on the beautiful Sea of Galilee.
We drive up to the Golan Heights, where we will see Syrian fortifications. Then on to Tel Dan, then Caesarea Philippi, where Peter confessed Jesus was the Messiah. Lunch at Kfar Blum, then on to Safed, known in the Scriptures as the "city on a hill."

Day 6 - Friday June 18 - Galilee
Today we visit Capernaum, and visit an ancient synagogue. Visit a dairy farm in Zippori. On through the Jezreel Valley to Megiddo, one of Solomon's chariot cities and the site of a future battle of Armageddon. End the day with a Shabat dinner and a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee.

Day 7 - Saturday June 19 - Dead Sea
Today we depart for the Dead Sea, stopping at the excavations of Beit She'an and Qumran, site of the ancient Dead Sea Scrolls. Then we are off to the Dead Sea, where we will enjoy our Dead Sea Spa.

Day 8 - Sunday June 20 - Jerusalem
Happy Father's Day! This morning we visit Masada, the winter fortress of King Herod, the last Jewish stronghold against the Romans, and a symbol of strength to Israel today. Next we will stop at Ein Gedi, where David penned many of the Psalms. Then we begin our journey "up to Jerusalem," view the Mount of Olives where we will have a glimpse of the Holy City, then pray at Mount Scopus for the "peace of Jerusalem."

Day 9 - Monday June 21 - Jerusalem
Today we will visit the Ophel and Southern Excavations, the Western Wall, the ancient Cardo, and the Jewish Quarter for shopping.

Day 10 - Tuesday June 22 - Jerusalem
Today we begin our visit of the New City - the Knesset, the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial, and the Hadassah Chagall windows.

Day 11 - Wednesday June 23 - Jerusalem
Our day begins at the Western Wall, then the Rabbi's Tunnel, to the Pool of Bethesda, Antonia Fortress, and the Garden Tomb. Return to Mount Skopus for a final prayer.

Day 12 - Thursday June 24
Today we say Shalom to the beautiful land of Israel, as we travel home to the USA.

Countdown

13 days to departure, and I continue to feel rather unprepared. I wish there were more time. I barely know any Hebrew. Tonight I went to an Israeli dance class with my sisters and there were some people there shmach-ing and charesh-ing (that's my interpretation.) I realized that I seriously know like 5 words. I did have a Hebrew class when I was in college but that was only for a total of 10 hours. This will be the first time I've traveled to a country where I really don't know the language. I don't like that.

A man who is/was part of our tour group became seriously ill this past weekend. His name is Jim D. and he is somewhere around 70 years old I believe. When we came home on Sunday night there was a note on the door that he had been admitted to the emergency room, and we found out later that they were forced to operate (I won't go into the details of his problem here.) Apparently his life was actually in danger for some time, but the last we heard was that he is recovering and is going to be fine, thank G-d. I haven't heard how this will affect the trip, but I imagine it will be difficult for him to make it. If that's the case it will be a certifiable injustice - he and his wife had been anticipating our trip very much. But maybe they will still go.

Ciao for now.